Sarawak FA

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FA Sarawak
Full nameFootball Association of Sarawak
Persatuan Bolasepak Sarawak
  • Ngap Sayot
  • Bujang Senang (The Crocs)
Founded1974; 45 years ago (1974)
GroundSarawak State Stadium
PresidentPosa Majais
ManagerHamzah Brahim
Head CoachMohd Farhan Abdullah @ Anai Igang
LeagueMalaysia Premier League
2018Malaysia Premier League, 8th
WebsiteClub website
Current season

Football Association of Sarawak (Malay: Persatuan Bolasepak Sarawak) is a football club that supervises football in the state of Sarawak. The association's football team competes in Malaysia's football league representing the state of Sarawak in Borneo. It is one of the 14 state teams of the Malaysian football structure. They currently compete in Malaysia's second division professional football league, the Malaysia Premier League. The team's home matches are played at the 26,000 capacity Sarawak State Stadium in Kuching, the capital city of Sarawak.

The team has won the Malaysia FA Cup (1992), Premier League in 1997 and the Malaysia Charity Shield (1998). In 1999, the team advanced to the quarter-finals of the Asian Cup Winners' Cup after beating Ho Chi Minh Customs of V-League by 5–2 on aggregate in the first round and Yangon City Development of Myanmar Premier League by 4–0 on aggregate in the second round, only to crashing out later to Kashima Antlers of J-League by 2–14 on aggregate. In 2013, the team won the Malaysia Premier League which is their first domestic trophy in 12 years.[2]


Football fields have existed in the Kingdom of Sarawak before World War I, such as in Bidi, Buso, Dalian and Rajang River. Sarawak footballers at the time were mainly composed of European assistants and Asian staff. In 1824, a team named as the Kuching Wanderers were formed, mainly consisting of Europeans ancestry.[3] On 16 January 1928, the Wanderers were transformed into Kuching Football Club. Until 1956, the team played regularly twice a week including in James Buchanan Cup, a cup named after the fifteenth President of the United States, James Buchanan. Regular matches however stopped in 1933 as several players left the country due to the world's economic slump. The following year, the Kuching Football Association (as the predecessor of the current association) was officially founded.[3] From the 1950s until 1963, Sarawak competed in the Borneo Cup together with North Borneo football team and Brunei national football team.[4] Following the formation of the Federation of Malaysia, the team subsequently joined the mainstream Malaysian football. However in the 1970s, Sarawak football facing a decline and the management went bankrupt. The current Football Association of Sarawak was founded in 1974 by Haji Taha Ariffin with assistance from the Sarawak state government.[3] Its constitution was subsequently rewritten with a major overhaul was made to change the old management, and the team established the Sarawak Cup. With the association progressed greatly, Sarawak qualify into the Malaysia Cup for the first time in 1978 and enter the competition in 1979.[5]

Amateur and semi-pro era[edit]

Like its traditional rival and neighbour of Sabah, Sarawak also produced some quality player such as James Yaakub.[6] Generally, Sarawak is known as The Kenyalang, named after the state bird. In the 1980s, the Black Cats was chosen as the team's pseudonym; however, following series of notorious crocodile attacks at heavily infested rivers in the state during the 1990s, the nick Bujang Senang is chosen to represent Sarawak's chivalric and ferocious play. The name is chosen after a legendary and notorious man-eating crocodile Bujang Senang, who is believed to reside at the Batang Lupar River in the Sri Aman Division.[7] In 1988, under the coach Awang Mahyan Awang Mohamad, he introduced the slogan Ngap Sayot and brought the team to its first Malaysia Cup semi-final,[8] defeating other teams deemed several times to be more stronger than Sarawak, such as Selangor, Kedah, Kuala Lumpur and Pahang.[9] Several other themes then emerged, among them are Ngap Ajak and Tebang Bala Sidak. Recently, the Semangat 88 (Spirit of 88) theme is used alongside Ngap Sayot to emulate the success of the 1980s team. In 1989, Sarawak again appeared to be on the course to make their first final in the competition, but a referee's misjudgement during the quarter-final match in Kuala Lumpur saw the team controversially eliminated at the stage. The incident strained national integration and causing Sarawak football organisation to withdraw their affiliation from the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) for a while.[3]

Professional era[edit]

Under the management of New Zealander coach Alan Vest (former interim manager at Australia's Perth Glory) from 1992, the team rose from an underachiever to a successful side especially when a huge investment was made.[10][11] The most popular foreign players in the team was John Hunter (known in the team as John "Kerbau (Buffalo)" Hunter). David Evans an Australian, holds the record as the tallest player ever in the league's history, as well as the longest serving foreign player. Other players such as Billy Bone, Alistair Edwards, Doug Ithier as well as Neathan Gibson were also popular with fans. Following the addition of foreign players since the early 1990s, Sarawak won the Malaysia FA Cup in 1992, Liga Perdana in 1997 and Malaysia Charity Shield in 1998.[10][12][13][14] They also reached their first ever Malaysia Cup final in 1999, only losing 1–2 at the end to Brunei.[15] This era also witnessed a significant change of venue in 1997. After the end of the 1997 FIFA World Youth Cup, Sarawak moved to its current home, the Sarawak Stadium which is adjacent to the old stadium (although the team re-used the old Stadium Negeri for several home matches afterwards). The new stadium was regarded quite unfortunate as the old one, but throughout the time the new stadium becomes an identity for the team itself. The new stadium has hosted several international matches, such the Asian Cup Winners' Cup quarter-final round match between Sarawak and Kashima Antlers of Japan, and other friendlies with clubs from Singapore, Australia and Germany. After the departure of Vest in 1999, the team were left without any foreign touch due to recent change in FAM policy. With the coming of Vest's apprentice and also an ex-captain of Sarawak, Abdul Jalil Rambli, the team managed to reach both the finals of Malaysia Cup and the FA Cup in 2001.[16] It is also noted at the time that the team were second after Selangor in terms of wealth and excellence in management as well as players' welfare, which subsequently became a favourite in most competitions and one of the most consistent teams.

Recent era[edit]

Sarawak emerged as the overall champion for the 2013 Malaysia Premier League edition.[2]

"The Invincibles" has been used to refer to the Sarawak team for the 2013 season managed by Dutch coach Robert Alberts.[17] The team completed the season campaign unbeaten, with their league record was 18 wins, 4 draws and 0 losses in over 22 games in total.[18][19] Alberts was praised for his remarkable job in getting the locals to successfully combine with foreign players such as Bosnian striker Muamer Salibašić and Cameroon centre-back Guy Bwele.[2][20] The team venture in other domestic cups however ended in the quarter-finals after losing both legs against Kelantan in the FA Cup by 1–4 on aggregate, and losing 2–4 on aggregate against Pahang in the semi-final match.[21]


Sarawak State Stadium in Petra Jaya, Kuching during a Malaysia Cup semi-finals between Sarawak and Pahang in 2013.

The team's current home is the 26,000-seater Sarawak State Stadium (Malay: Stadium Negeri Sarawak) at Petra Jaya, Kuching.[1] The team previously played at the adjacent, modern, 40,000-seater Sarawak Stadium until 2011 to make way for 2016 Sukma Games renovation works. The team also previously played at the Jubilee Ground (Malay: Padang Jubli) at Padungan Road, Kuching from 1974 until the mid-1980s, before moving to the old (now current) ground. Following facilities upgrade in 1989 for 1990 Sukma Games, the stadium remained as their base until 1997 when they moved to the new stadium after the 1997 FIFA World Youth Championship concluded. The Sarawak Stadium is currently only used as training ground and is expected to host the team home games after the conclusion of 2016 Sukma Games.

Crest and colours[edit]


The flag of Sarawak has always been an inspiration for kit colour schemes. Historically, the home shirt is red and black, augmented by black shorts and red socks. However, colours for both shorts and socks may occasionally change to either red or white, according to season's preference. Certain seasons have seen yellow, orange and even white kits worn as first choice kits. Owing to team's success mostly dressed in red and black, the team is sometimes colloquially known as Merah Hitam (the Red and Blacks). Similarly, the away kit is always blue and black; akin to its home kit, colours for both shorts and socks may occasionally change to either blue or white, according to season's preference. Certain seasons have seen white, yellow and navy blue kits worn as change kits. For current season, these colours are set as their "third" kit as the team prefers yellow shirt, black shorts and red socks as their away kit.

More recently, Sarawak have also introduced a third, or alternate kit. In general, most Sarawak kits are influenced by the colours of top Italian football clubs, AC Milan and Internazionale. Sarawak's first known kit manufacturer is Puma, followed by Diadora. Since 1991, the team has worn Lotto kits, which have witnessed tremendous success and fame before switching to local brand Rossi in September 2001. After nine years, Adidas became the kit of choice for one season prior to the appointment of another local brand, Starsport to supply kits for the team until at least 2016.

Ownership and finances[edit]

Since the 1980s until 2010, all teams competing in Malaysian football leagues are sponsored by single sponsors, namely Dunhill (1980s–05) and Telekom Malaysia (TM) (2006–10), apart from league sponsorship. From season 2011 onwards, the national satellite television Astro takes over as league sponsor, while competing teams are individually sponsored by respective corporates and suppliers.

In addition, the Lea Group of Companies, a local company through their sporting wing, Lea Sports Centre has been Sarawak's shirt sponsor since the 1990s. Previous sponsors include Bank Utama, Power (a brand by Bata), Inai Kiara, Holiday Inn, AirAsia, Larsen Oil & Gas and Naim Holdings, and currently, the team is sponsored by Sarawak Energy,[22] Shin Yang, Ibraco Berhad, Marina Parkcity, Titanium Management, DD Plantations, HSL, Rimbunan Hijau and Lea Sports Centre.

For the 2019 season, Malindo Air became corporate partner and official airline for the Sarawak team, according to the official Sarawak FA Facebook page.


Season Manufacturer Sponsor
1992–2000 Italy Lotto Dunhill
2001–2004 Trinidad and Tobago Rossi
2005 TMnet
2005–2006 Celcom
2006–2007 TM
2009 Streamyx
2010 Germany Adidas TM
2011–2013 Malaysia Starsport Naim Holdings
2014–2016 Sarawak Energy
2016 Marina ParkCity
2017 Sarawak Energy
2018 none
2019 Press Metal


Malaysia Cup
Liga Perdana (1x)
Liga Premier (1x)
Malaysia FA Cup (1x)
1996, 2001
Malaysian Charity Shield (1x)
Borneo Cup (7x)
1965, 1966, 1969, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1986

Club records[edit]

As of 28 July 2018


  • P = Played, W = Win, D = Draw, L= Loss, F = Goal for, A = Goal against, Pts = Points, Pos = Position

  1st or Champions   2nd or Runner-Up   3rd place   Relegation

Season League Cup Asia
Division Pld W D L F A Pts Pos Charity Malaysia FA Competition Result
2004 Super League 21 3 7 11 28 38 16 7th  – 1st round Group stage  –  –
2005 Premier League 21 3 5 13 23 38 14 7th  – 1st round Not qualified  –  –
2005–06 Premier League 21 8 6 7 40 39 30 4th  – Quarter-finals Quarter-finals  –  –
2006–07 Super League 24 2 4 18 28 65 10 12th  – 1st round Group stage  –  –
2007–08 Super League 24 4 2 18 25 67 14 13th  – 2nd round Group stage  –  –
2009 Premier League 24 3 6 15 29 57 15 12th  – 2nd round Group stage  –  –
2010 Premier League 22 11 4 7 42 34 37 6th  – 2nd round Not qualified  –  –
2011 Premier League 22 15 3 4 51 16 48 2nd  – 1st round Group stage  –  –
2012 Super League 26 8 6 12 28 32 30 11th  – 1st round Group stage  –  –
2013 Premier League 22 18 4 0 49 12 58 1st  – Semi-finals Quarter-finals  –  –
2014 Super League 22 9 3 10 26 31 30 7th  – Group stage Quarter-finals  –  –
2015 Super League 18 3 5 10 21 33 14 10th  – Quarter-finals 1st round  –  –
2016 Super League 22 6 6 10 32 40 24 8th  – Group stage 2nd round  –  –
2017 Super League 22 5 6 11 24 34 21 11th  – Group stage Quarter-finals  –  –
2018 Premier League 20 6 4 10 27 35 22 8th  – Not qualified 2nd round  –  –


Malaysia Cup records[edit]